Dilly Lee by Gaylynne Robinson

dead mule school

Dilly Lee was spoiled rotten. Sometimes that works against a man. He was a lot like his granddaddy, though he never met him, being dead some ten years before Dilly was born. It was his grandma who raised him but the blame was hers alone. The women loved him, they gave him money and more, but knowing the kind of man Dilly Lee was, only the most naïve of young women ever thought of keeping Dilly for themselves. 

Dilly Lee didn’t make a lot of men friends. They were intimidated by his quick wit and self-assurance. He could make a car payment in a night shooting pool at Floyd’s and no one would hold it against him. Men followed him blindly into any fool scheme that crossed his mind. 
He never took it seriously though, and often seemed surprised that one of the men had actually taken up his idea. He’d just shake his head, and a long black blade of hair falling into his eye would be swept back with a wide square, strong, bronze hand. 
After his grandma died, he didn’t run wild like everyone bet he would. He was just kind of quiet, rocking back and forth on the porch three nights straight, and then he left on on the last train that ever came through this town. Don’t know of anyone who has seen him since. The house is overrun with weeds and rodents and last summer a fox took up residence there. The ones who knew Dilly Lee think he may come back yet.
The women watch the ropey old road for him, and every time a flashy new car drives past, bursting a cloud of dust, the women hope and the men hope too, but they hope the car just keeps going down the road.